The start of January marks a lot at Northwestern – a new quarter, winter weather, Dance Marathon season, and fraternity and sorority recruitment.
Just as students are arriving back on campus for winter quarter, Panhellenic Association (PHA) starts its week-long recruitment process, marked by women visiting all the sorority houses in the quad and deciding which sorority is the right fit for them.
But for Fraternity and Sorority Life (FSL), PHA recruitment is just one of multiple processes throughout the year. FSL advises four councils - PHA, Interfraternity Council (IFC), Multicultural Greek Council (MGC), and National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC). The four councils, which together make up 40 percent of the Northwestern community, each have a different recruitment/intake process for potential members. Here is a breakdown on how each council works:
For PHA, formal recruitment begins during the first week of winter quarter, allowing women to familiarize themselves with Northwestern and the role sororities play on campus.
For Abigail Cunningham, the PHA vice president of membership, joining a sorority was a chance to be a part of a community with women she looked up to, like her mother who is a Northwestern alumna and in a PHA chapter.
To be a part of recruitment, potential new members do not need to do much preparation or have a lot of prior knowledge about the process. Women who register receive a recruitment counselor who helps guide them through the process and answer any questions. During the first week of winter quarter, every woman will have the chance to visit every chapter's house, allowing them to learn about each sorority.
After recruitment, women who have accepted a bid into a sorority begin the new member process, participating in events centered around learning about the chapter and getting to know their sisters.
“I think the best part about my new member process was just being surrounded by such a support system during the whole experience,” said Cunningham, who as a part of PHA executive board cannot disclose her chapter affiliation until the end of recruitment. “I knew that if I ever had a question about anything - academics, sorority life, my chapter, or campus involvement - there would be a whole group of people willing to help me out.”
To register for PHA recruitment, students should register before January 2. Registration costs $50, but if cost is a barrier, PHA can work with students to reduce or waive the fees.
“That's the best advice I can give to anyone participating in recruitment: go in with an open mind and know that you'll learn so many new things about the Panhellenic and Northwestern community every day,” Cunningham said.
The Interfraternity Council, made up of 17 chapters (16 of which participate in recruitment), also offers invitations/bids to prospective new members in early January. Prior to the formal IFC recruitment, many chapters offer opportunities for active members to meet interested students.
Throughout fall quarter, IFC hosts various informational sessions, casual sporting events, and notably, Sunday night dinners. The weekly Sunday night dinners, hosted at the fraternity houses, allow potential new members to get to know the brothers over dinner from local restaurants.
Activities occur during fall quarter and Recruitment Week is during winter quarter. To find out more, reach out to the IFC executive board or a member from a specific chapter of interest.
Multicultural Greek Council
For Cynthia Chen, president of the Multicultural Greek Council, sorority life did not always seem like it was for her. Chen had no intention of going through the recruitment process until a friend convinced her to attend a preview/informational session where the sisters of Sigma Psi Zeta invited her to Molly’s Cupcakes in Lincoln Park.
“During the event, I remember thinking, ‘I would not mind being with this group of girls for the rest of my career here at Northwestern,’” Chen said.
The intake process for MGC varies across each chapter and is considered a more secretive process. Chen said, though, that the process before becoming an official sister definitely played a big role in her level of commitment with the sorority when she came out as a member.
Although the MGC chapters each have different processes, the council works together as a whole and members from all chapters make an effort to become friends, regardless of their individual affiliations. Chen also said that one big misconception about MGC is that chapters are exclusive to certain races and ethnicities, but in reality, anyone is welcome to join.
“Every organization welcomes anyone who is interested in joining our tight-knit and close community,” Chen said.
The intake process varies from organization to organization in MGC. Events run through fall and spring quarter, but the bulk of recruitment, according to Chen, occurs in the first couple of weeks of winter quarter. Reaching out to the chapters and attending their info events is the best way to get connected.
National Pan-Hellenic Council
National Pan-Hellenic Council, made up of historically black fraternities and sororities, conduct intake events, activities, and informational meetings throughout the year. At Northwestern, there are seven out of the “Divine Nine” organizations that make up the council nationwide.
The intake process, coordinated by each chapter, is also a secretive process with different traditions depending on the organization. NPHC chapters host various educational and social events for interested students and the Northwestern community, like the career panel that Alpha Kappa Alpha co-hosted with the National Association of Black Journalists during fall quarter.
Freshman cannot be a part of the new member process until winter quarter. Other students may start the process for joining during fall quarter. To learn more about chapter-specific information, reach out to members.
For more information about recruitment, visit www.northwestern.edu/fsl.